THE #1 THING TO BRING TO AN INTERVIEW

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Navy Sheath Dress: Brooks Brothers (Old – This Ann Taylor navy sheath is similar and currently on sale + available in all sizes for $60! Here’s another Ann Taylor navy sheath that’s a bit pricier but absolutely chic) | Trench: Michael Kors | Bag: Michael Kors Tote | Shoes: Sole Society (Similar – Last Styled Here) | Pearls: J.Crew (Currently 25% off with code GETSHOPPING)
In my last semester of college, I took the capstone course for my Public Communication degree. Unlike most capstone courses where you have a ginormous monster of a thesis paper, this capstone course was more hands-on. At the beginning of the semester, the class was divided into teams and we were all given a client and we had to create a PR plan to meet the client’s goals. Several weeks later, the client team came back to campus and we had to pitch our PR plans to them. A big chunk of our final grade was based off that presentation. Almost an entire semester’s worth of work boiled down to a 10 minute pitch. It was stressful and nerve-wracking and exciting all at the same time. The morning of our presentation, my team was in one of the library’s conference rooms finalizing and rehearsing our pitch for the zillionth time, putting out any last-minute fires and getting ourselves ready. I read over my notecard with a curling iron in one hand and a bagel in the other.
My team ended up winning the competition and we went to Chef Geoff’s to celebrate! Just kidding, we won and all went home to sleep forever.
With this weight off our shoulders, it reminded us that an even larger weight was there, too. We were mere weeks away from graduating and joining the real world. The capstone course turned into a “How to Put Your Best Foot Forward and Get a Job” and our classes turned into cover letter and resume review sessions mixed with recent alum guest speakers who talked about their various PR journeys and discussed work-life balance and how to adult 101 tips.
But the class discussion on interviewing gave me an “A-ha!” moment and since then I’ve passed along this piece of advice on every informational interview I’ve taken. The #1 thing to bring to an interview: A portfolio. Preferably 3 of them to make sure you have enough copies for everyone.
So simple yet so brilliant for many reasons. First things first, what should go into your portfolio?
  • Resume
  • 3-4 work samples that demonstrate your range of skills
  • Optional: cover letter or references
On every interview I’ve gone on since my college graduation, I have taken along 3 copies of my portfolio. The work samples have changed over the years but the concept hasn’t. I use these covers from Amazon for mine, you don’t need go get a fancy leather cover for each portfolio. I’ll explain why in a little bit.
Interviews can be scary and nerve-wracking just like that 10 minute client pitch. Except with the interview you have 30 minutes to an hour to sell you. And as much as you study and practice, we’ve all had those moments where the interviewer asks a question and our mind goes completely blank. This is where your portfolio acts like a combination of a security blanket and a lifesaver.
Your portfolio is a physical reminder of how dedicated of a worker you are and how you are qualified to take on the challenges of a new position. If your mind goes blank, take a deep breath and open your portfolio to highlight and talk through a work sample that can serve as an answer to their question. For example, and this is from the communications world, your interviewer asks about your experience positioning a difficult client. You could point to an op-ed in your portfolio and discuss the situation and how you navigated it and the role the op-ed played in moving the needle on the conversation. Having an example right in front of you is like a security blanket: You might not need it but in a moment when nerves take over, you’re really happy to have it on hand.
Now here’s the other thing about the portfolio. At the end of the interview, you leave them with your interviewers. Why? Because after they meet with you, they’ll still have to discuss the interviewees and it could be a few days after your interview. They might not necessarily recall the minute details of each candidate. Your portfolio does the heavy lifting of remembering details for the interviewers and makes you stand out in the crowd.
Bringing your portfolio to an interview shows you are a professional, you’re detail-oriented and will go the extra mile. It’s the #1 thing to bring to an interview.
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Navy Sheath Dress: Brooks Brothers (Old – This Ann Taylor navy sheath is similar and currently on sale + available in all sizes for $60! Here’s another Ann Taylor navy sheath that’s a bit pricier but absolutely chic) | Trench: Michael Kors | Bag: Michael Kors Tote | Shoes: Sole Society (Similar – Last Styled Here) | Pearls: J.Crew (Currently 25% off with code GETSHOPPING)
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Written by Lauren from DC GIRL In Pearls

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